By Christian Agadibe
To the newly crowned Miss Olamma Igbo, Nkiruka Elizabeth Ngana, a lot of people in the fashion industry live fake lives.
In this interview, the beauty queen opened up more on her passion and fears in the industry. She also revealed what made her stand out among all other contestants in the pageantry. Excerpts:
Tell us a little about your background?
My name is Nkiruka Elizabeth Ngana. I’m from Abia State. I attended Model Primary School, Nsukka and Amuwo-Odofin High School in Lagos. I studied Biochemistry at University of Port Harcourt and did my NYSC in Ebonyi State. Right now, I’m a fashion designer based in Abuja. I design native clothes, English wears and casuals.
How do you feel emerging as Miss Olamma?
I feel happy and so excited; I didn’t see it coming, but God did it. I return all glory to God.
How did your journey to the crown begin?
It all started from an online registration, and then auditioning.
When you signed up for this contest, did you see yourself emerging the winner?
I saw myself as a winner really because I know I am a queen. I said to myself I am going to win this because I am Olamma Igbo. But when I got to the camp and saw other girls, I said this is really competitive. But then, I told myself that I came with a spirit of a winner, I will work with that spirit.
How was your growing up; do you have any fond memory of acting a queen even as a kid?
When I was growing up, my grandma and mom used to call me Olamma. As a child, I was always conscious of my environment and I loved to wear a crown. I used to tell my mom to buy me the hair pack that looked like a crown, that I wanted to wear it to church. When I was in the University of Port Harcourt, I won the Most Beautiful Girl pageant in my Biochemistry department. During my service year, I also contested as the Most Beautiful Girl, so when I came across this platform I applied knowing that definitely I will win.
What would be your first project as Miss Olamma in the Southeast?
My first project would be empowering young Igbo girls, starting from my community, with skill acquisition specifically in fashion designing. I want to empower about 200 girls in my community. I want to give them hope that, if I can make it as a fashion designer and model, they too can make it.
Talking about fashion accessories, what’s the fashion item you cannot do without when you are stepping out?
I don’t really hope too much on fashion. Of course, you wear clothes, earring, necklace and bangle when going out, so I don’t think there’s anything I can do without, because I normally wear those things. They are all part of the outfit.
What are the common mistakes ladies make in fashion?
As a young Igbo girl, you have to find out what your passion is. When I was growing up, if I saw someone’s clothes, I would just go and buy fabric, cut and sew it. I told myself that once I had the chance, I would go and learn the basics of sewing. During my service year, I learnt how to sew because I found my passion in it.
The mistake some people make, especially ladies, is that they don’t know what their challenges are. If you have the passion for fashion designing, it will be easy for you to learn. Some people say this person is into fashion designing; so let me also go into fashion designing. You’ll find out that such people find it difficult to pick up, and at the end of the day, they won’t find joy and peace in it. But if it’s your passion, you see yourself growing in it, and learning fast.
What set you apart from the other contestants during the camping?
The pageantry is all about projecting Igbo culture and tradition, that’s actually what I had in mind. So, everything I did when I was in the camp I made sure that I projected the Igbo culture and tradition. So, I believe what stood me out was the fact that I understood what I was going into; projecting Igbo culture and tradition, not just projecting any culture and tradition. Some people really didn’t get it right. Some were projecting just culture and tradition, but not Igbo culture and tradition.
Now that you are crowned Miss Olamma, what has changed in your life?
Nothing has really changed; I am still my humble self. The only thing I can say has changed is that I’m the crowned queen of Olamma Africa, Olamma Igbo culture and tradition. I will still keep being who I am.
As a graduate of Biochemistry, what spurred you into beauty pageantry?
Actually, I love my culture; I love my tradition as an Igbo girl. When I was in University of Port Harcourt, I was the vice president of the National Association of Abia Students because I loved my Igbo culture; it’s my heritage. Even though, I studied Biochemistry, I still look out for ways or platforms I can use to promote Igbo culture and tradition.
What is your dislike about the fashion industry?
What I don’t like is people not being fair. There are lots of people that live fake lives in the fashion industry. I believe if you are real, your sincerity will take you far. I don’t like people that are not real.
Are you single or married?
I am single.
Are you in a relationship at the moment?
How would you describe your ideal man, what qualities do you desire in a man?
I want a sincere man, a man that puts God first in everything he does, a man that will appreciate my value and support my dream in the fashion industry. I want a man that will see me as the queen that I am and appreciate God and me.
As a beauty queen, how do you handle advances from the opposite sex?
As a beauty queen, I get lots of calls and messages. But I handle everything in a polite manner.
What surprised you most taking part in beauty pageantry?
There is this mindset about beauty pageantry whereby people believe that contestants are always slim and tall. I’m not fat, but I’ve only got… and I’m beautiful, so I told myself that this is Igbo culture and tradition, projecting it in the eyes of a woman; it mustn’t be a slim, tall person. So, I went into the pageantry believing that I was going to win. When I won, I was surprised that someone (like me) could also win without being slim and tall. That was a big surprise to me. I knew I met the criteria in terms of appearance, hairstyle, attire, the questions and answers on stage, but when they pronounced me the winner, I was surprised. They (organisers) were not biased that this person was not slim, so let’s give it to a slim, tall person.
It was a big surprise to me seeing that the pageant organised by Ogbuefi Emmanuel Ezima was real.
How did your family react to your involvement in the pageant?
They were so happy; they gave me their full support.
What would you say was your no-go area, if they asked you to wear bikini or pant on stage, would you have done that?
No, I won’t do that. In fact, when I read the criteria about this Olamma pageant, I said this is where I think I’ll perform very well because there was no room for nude, bikini or pant appearance. It was just perfect. For me, it was just what I wanted, because there was no showing of boobs. So, I wanted to project that you can be a beautiful, young lady and wear nice clothes without showing your cleavage and still come out as a winner.
What is your favourite colour and attire?
My favourite colours are black and pink, and I love to wear natives. I love my Igbo culture and tradition and I try to portray it wherever I go. Even when I wear jeans, I make sure that my top is traditional. My gowns are also traditional and I love to wear beads.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion means projecting who you are in the eyes of the people. Looking good is a good business and, of course, there is money in fashion designing. If you can dedicate your time to it, you will make money in a cool and descent way. People go to parties; people go for burials; so people will always wear clothes.
What do you think emerging Miss Olamma has added to your profile?
The popularity that comes with being a crowned queen, that’s basically what has added to my profile.
What advice would you give to any girl that wants to partake in Miss Olamma next year?
My advice to young Igbo girls out there is, believe in yourself, have confidence in yourself that you can do this; that you can achieve it. The most important thing is that once you believe in yourself and have confidence that you can achieve it, you will attain any height you want to attain.